Social media consumption in teens mark positive changes

Gabriella Pinos/ Staff Writer

The media landscape is mutating at breakneck speed, and every year, I understand it less and less. With a new generation of users and new apps released daily, my brain can only handle so much change in such a short period of time.

It wasn’t too long ago when I was in the shoes of today’s 13-year-olds, in awe of the possibilities platforms like Facebook made available. At the time, Instagram and Twitter were relatively new, and YouTube was still a new frontier that housed a niche subculture.

Now, it’s rare to find a teen who doesn’t scoff when their family asks if they have a Facebook.

The main thing that’s changed is the way children and teens use the internet and social media. Teens ages 13 to 17 have increased their internet consumption, with 45 percent of them going online almost constantly, compared to just 24 percent in 2014-2015, according to a May 2018 study by Pew Research Center.

There’s also been a shift toward video streaming and sharing platforms over the years. YouTube is the most popular platform among teenagers, according to Pew, followed by Instagram and Snapchat. Zuckerberg’s social network is a thing of the past, with only 51 percent of teens saying they use the platform.

That percentage will only dwindle in the future with the advent of new and different ways for kids to make themselves viral. Apps like the now defunct Vine and have not only shortened the video sharing format, but like its predecessors, they have created a subculture centered around these platforms.

And while I can complain about how different social media is compared to when I was 13, even a cynic like myself must admit that it’s not all that bad.

Considering how many teenagers have access to smartphones in 2018, about 95 percent of them, according to the study, it’s great that there are so many options for entertainment and social networking on our devices. Now more than ever, kids can find a social media app that suits them and interact with people who have their same tastes.

There are no doubt exceptions to this trend, as the stream of young social media users attracts corporations and predators alike to take advantage of the system.

But the data shows that social media platforms, despite their flaws, have a positive effect on the teenagers who use them. 71 percent of U.S. teenagers also said that social media makes them feel included, and 69 percent say it makes them feel confident.

81 percent of teenagers also said that social media connected them more to their friends. It’s now the norm for kids to get together with their friends online; 60 percent of teens do this every day or almost every day, compared to 50 percent of them who interact with friends in person. This provides an alternative to those who have busy schedules or who would like to meet with teens from other cities or countries.

The open, unknown frontier of social media isn’t what it used to be before. It’s no longer exclusive to college students or to niche forums made up of grown men, and as I get older, I’ll be less inclined to keep up with whatever this generation’s into.

But when I’m 40 and in desperate need to be hip, at least I’ll know to turn to the 13-year-old boys and girls that dictate the direction of social media trends.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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